The pink stretch limousine with the long black eyelashes on its headlights is fueled by equal parts cheers and tears, according to Cub Hill resident Joanna Fridinger.
"It's my therapy," said Fridinger, who runs The Limo Lady limousine service. "It's so much fun to see people's reactions; they just smile and laugh."
But she also uses the distinctive pink vehicle to fight cancer, in memory of her older sister, Janice Horner, who fought the disease for more than five years before it killed her.
The pink limo has been a big hit for weddings, parties and other events.
Fridinger donates 10 percent of the rental proceeds to the Cancer Institute at St. Joseph Medical Center, in Towson. And on Oct. 27, she'll team up with Bateman's Bistro, in North Plaza, for a fundraiser that will also aid the institute.
Fridinger, 54, taught school at Immaculate Heart of Mary for 14 years before she left in 1997 to work part-time for a limousine service. She and her husband, Marty, who was a Baltimore City police officer at the time, had three young daughters, and it was too hard for her to get time off from work to keep up with their plays and concerts and activities.
"They're only going to be young once," she told Marty, who supported her decision.
Fridinger got lost on her way to the limo job interview in Perry Hall, but they hired her any way.
To make sure she didn't get lost after that, her husband would get home from work at midnight and go out with her on the routes she'd have to take the next day.
That lasted a week before he took her to Readings and Greetings and purchased all the county ADC map books and said, "Here you go, we can't keep doing this."
When it got to the point where she was not only driving for the company — and never getting lost — and also answering the phone and handling the administrative duties, she decided to strike out on her own.
The family traded in its old Ford van for a used Lincoln town car. But they didn't have any money for advertising, so she incorporated in 1999 under a name that would put them high in the Yellow Pages listings: All Around the County Transportation Services.
It worked. After six months they took out a home equity loan to buy a used stretch limo and she was able to double the pay of her highest paid employee. That was Marty — who worked for free.
"He's been so supportive," she said.
They added to the fleet later. Technically, the name of the company remains All Around the County Transportation Services. But in a male-dominated industry she was often referred to as "the limo lady," so she now does business under that name.
A family's fight
Fridinger still laughs and cries when she talks about Janice, who died Jan. 26, 2010.
"Janice had never married," Fridinger said. "She was my older sister by four years. My three daughters were the apple of her eye. She was the typical spoil-the-kids kind of aunt, always there for their assemblies and tournaments.
"She was such a giving person," she said of her sister. "She was close to so many people. She couldn't go anywhere without giving somebody something.
"When my grandson was little, he called her 'Aunt Beer' because she'd always bring him the root beer he loved."